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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The Good News! » » When using translators (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

sdgiu
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I started out writing this to snap, because of his trip. But this is rather universal info for use of translators.

God bless you and your efforts snap, and anyone else doing a mission trip of this sort.

As a once trained professional translator(to long ago to still take credit for it Smile now) I have a few basic rules to help you make sure you are getting across the message you actually are trying to convey.

1. Try to find a translator who is symapthetic to your cause. i.e. If you are trying to reach a group of Muslims, a translator who is a staunch Muslim might not be the way to go. (this could be a problem, as many Ukrainians served in Afganistan) I know this because of a good friend who was in Afganistan for many years and converted.

2. Before you actually work for an audience, go over the material with your translator(a walk through of the show) so (s)he can ask about any words (s)he is unfamiliar with, or uncertain of. This is Very important, only to be exceded by #3

3. If you have the time and opportunity, get two translators, speak to one (where the second cannot hear you) and have the second write out what (s)he has heard(i.e. translate back into english). If at all possible, this is a VERY important exercise. Make corrections as needed. (This may have to be done several times to make sure of your translation, just remember, it is more important to get the right idea across than specific words.)

The best example of problems in translation that I know of is Cokes ad in Tibet(I believe) that was supposed to say "Coke brings good things to life" which actually translated out to, "Coke brings your ancestors back from the dead". Although a great claim, that would surely sell Coke, it was a hard one to back up. Unfortunately, the Coca Cola compamny did "NOT" get a translation as I stated in #3.

4. If you say three words and your translator goes on for a while, (s)he is editorializing, and may not be helping your cause. Make sure (s)he stays in the boundaries you discussed in #2. If they continue to editorialize, it might be better to stop the show and get another interpreter. When I was first trained in the use of interpreters(yes there is even training for use of interpreters) we were told to stop and fire the interpreter if they editorialized after the first warning. It is a serious thing, and you have an important message to get across.

Again, Godspeed, and God Bless your endeavor, all of you who get such a wonderful chance.

Steve

Ps This is off the top of my head, and I am a bit rushed, so if anyone has other suggestions, please add on, I'll come back later and add more.
BradBrown
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I have performed through translators many times, mostly in India. I've had some wonderful translators and some, well, not so wonderful.

On a pratical level, you sometimes can't choose your translator, or even work with them much in advance. This is not ideal, obviously, but sometimes you have to take what you can get. Overall my experiences were good, but there were ocasionaly problems.

Here are a few thoughts on using translators...

Speak slowly and clearly, so the translator can understand you. It can take a translator a while to get used to your accent.

Be very literal. Avoid figures of speech which may not translate. (For example, who knows how a saying like "You're full of boloney" might get translated.) Even subtleties of language have the potential to cause problems. For example suppose your talking about the difference between "belief" and "faith," and are being translated into a language that uses the same word for both "belief" and "faith." The translation won't maks much sence. Just keep it simple and very literal.

Jokes rarely work through translators. Jokes which are based on plays on words probably won't translate. Even if you have a joke that will translate, your timing is only as good as your interpreter's. (Of course non-verbal and situational humor work fine.)

Pause for translation after each thought. Don't stop mid sentence, because the word order may need to be different in the translation. For example, saying "I am going ... [pause for translation] ... to the store ... [pause for translation]" would be a problem if the translated language puts the object first, like "To the store I am going". In that case, the translator wouldn't know what to do with your first pause.

Keep it short and get to the point. Going through a translator basicly doubles the amount of time required to share a thought. So, eliminate any unnecessary talking to keep things flowing.

-Brad
sdgiu
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That's great Brad,

These are the type things that people who haven't used translators don't think about.

Although many people learning english really want to know them, avoid the use of slang, and other idiomatic expressions for your translators sake. Brads "Just keep it simple and very literal." idea is Very important.

Remember you are trying to get an idea across, and as translators often find, some words have no straight across translations. But, if you can convey an idea/a word picture, you have accomplished your goal.

Thanks again Brad.

Again, if anyone has input, please put it down here.

God Bless
Steve
Miker
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I have discovered that sometimes the word(s) that we use does not have a counterpart in the language of the audience to whom you are speaking. When my wife and I went on a missions trip to the Ukraine in 2003, our group had a person who lived in the States and spoke fluent Ukrainian and Russian accompany us. We noticed that sometimes she would take a long time to translate a simple sentence or concept. When asked about it, she indicated that there was no word(s) in their language that existed for the word(s) used. She had to editorialize to convey the meaning. Fortunately, she was the daughter of a pastor and understood the message that we were giving. We also found that if you used any kind of slang or a cliche, it did not translate at all. (i.e. "6 of one, half-dozen of another." "Have your cake and eat it too." etc.)

One other important fact. When working through a translator be sure to break often enough that you do not have to rely on their memory of what was said. Long sentences will sometimes cause a break in the flow as the translator asks for a repeat of the concept.

Above all, the experience of bringing the Gospel to another country was exhillarating! Seeing the amount of interest and thirst for the knowledge of God was uplifiting for me and out whole group.

God Bless your efforts and enjoy the trip!
Miker
BradBrown
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Miker's comments reminded me of a translation-related story. It's not directly related to translating a performance, but it does illustrate some of the difficulties with translation. (And I found is somewhat amusing.)

I was in Guatemala quite a few years ago, working with Compassion International, the child sponsorship organization. I spoke with one of the people who translates letters from sponsors to the children, and children to sponsors. She talked about some of the difficulties in conveying the intended meaning and tone.

She gave an example of a letter that mentioned that the sponsors had gone skiing. The child receiving the letter would have no concept of snow skiing. So, "We went skiing" had to be translated into something like "We went up a mountain, strapped boards to our feet, and slid down the mountain in the snow."

-Brad
BroDavid
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Great information here!

Thanks for posting it guys.

BroDavid
If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
Chessmann
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Interesting. Most of my work is in Ukraine, and I keep hearing about Ukraine here. That is wonderful news - I love the country and the people.

Here is something that I have seen, and warn the teams I take about - regardless of the country.

Often, one can develop a rather close friendship with an interpreter. Spending days together, working, laughing, praying, etc....

It becomes easy to forget that your interpreter is not an American. I know this sounds strange, but it is true. It can lead to unfortunate comments made to an interpreter about life in the country you are in, the people, the customs, the culture.

Example: I took a team to Russia a few years ago. After a week of working together, we had a day off to see Moscow. I heard a team member talking to his (excellent) Russian interpreter about Americans adopting Russian orphans. The American said, "The Russians don't care about their babies." I almost hit the roof! The Russian interpreter took it in stride, and new the guy was exaggerating and speaking without thinking, but my goodness...!

So be careful - remember that the comments you make about where you are will be addressed to a permanent resident of your host country, and make all effort to behave as an guest should!
My ex-cat was named "Muffin". "Vomit" would be a better name for her. AKA "The Evil Ball of Fur".
sdgiu
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Good Point Chessmann

There are many things that can cause riffs between you and the people you are working with, that are completely innocent and unintentional. It is very hard to be on guard at all times, but it is important so as not to offend the people you are working with. Now, as an aside to that, I have found that most of the time, when working overseas, the people I have worked with have been Very gracious when it comes to unintentional gaffs. It seems that they are generally quick to forgive many errors of this sort.

Now, it seems that I have just completely contradicted myself, but what I am trying to say is, You will face enough problems without creating more for yourself.
An ounce of prevention ... .

I have found Ukrainians to be very kind, interesting, and friendly people. I would love to go on a trip there myself someday.

God Bless
Steve

Ps Hey Miker, welcome to the Café, and you are right, Sometimes lengthy explainations are in order, just be sure of your translator. Thanks for the comments.
Miker
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Wow! I did not know how many people were going to the Ukraine for missions trips. Little did I think that I'd find a number of them here at the Café! Is that cool or what!?

I loved going to the Ukraine. It was my first trip out of the States and overseas. At first it was a little out of my comfot zone but; Hey, after all, aren't we supposed to be stretched from time-to-time?

The thing that I loved the most about the Ukraine was the people. They were so generous and open. Many opened their homes for our missions group and provided meals and even took us sightseeing at their own personal expense. We did have some people that regarded us strangely and some shouts on the street but mostly we were welcomed with open arms!

I only got to perform 1 magic trick - using Dock Halley's Svengali Deck - but it was very well received. We did a VBS and we used puppets, stories, crafts, as well as the magic trick. Those kids were some of the best participants that I'd seen in a long time. (It is relatively missing from my neck of the woods.) I attribute the higher sense of awareness and involvement to the children's lack of outside influence, (i.e. Internet, video games, etc.) They were hanging on every word. They had me repeat the card trick at least 5 times! Smile

Miker
Chessmann
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What region of Ukraine did you visit, Mike? What city? Did you fly Lufthansa or British Air? :^)
My ex-cat was named "Muffin". "Vomit" would be a better name for her. AKA "The Evil Ball of Fur".
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